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How are U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps named?

A USGS topographic map usually is named for the most prominent feature within the bounds of the map, which is frequently a community. Topographic maps generally are named for the most centrally located, well-known, and/or largest community identified on the map.

If the community for which the map should be named falls on two or more maps, a directional term might be used such as East and West. An example is Washington East and Washington West, D.C.

If the map contains no communities or is very rural, it can be named for the most prominent and centrally located physical or natural feature within the bounds of the map.

Naming maps for linear features such as streams is generally avoided because such features usually pass through maps or meander on and off the maps. Occasionally, a map area is so devoid of named topography that a directional might be used, as in adding NW or SE to the name of an adjacent map, or even using the map name from a smaller scale series and applying the directional term.

Learn more:

U.S. Board on Geographic Names

Tags: Maps, Education, Geospatial, Atlases